Ezekiel 4

Listen to Ezekiel 4

The Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized

1 "And you, 1son of man, 2take a brick and lay it before you, and engrave on it a city, even Jerusalem.
2 3And put siegeworks against it, 4and build a siege wall against it, 5and cast up a mound against it. Set camps also against it, 6and plant battering rams against it all around.
3 And you, take an iron griddle, and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; 7and set your face toward it, 8and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it. This is 9a sign for the house of Israel.
4 "Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment[a] of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, 10you shall bear their punishment.
5 For I assign to you a number of days, days, 11equal to the number of the years of their punishment. 12So long shall you bear 13the punishment of the house of Israel.
6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and 14bear 15the punishment of the house of Judah. 16Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.
7 17And you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, 18with your arm bared, and you shall prophesy against the city.
8 And behold, 19I will place cords upon you, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other, till you have completed 20the days of your siege.
9 "And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer,[b] and put them into a single vessel and make your 21bread from them. 22During the number of days that you lie on your side, days, you shall eat it.
10 And your food that you eat shall be 23by weight, 24twenty shekels[c] a day; from day to day[d] you shall eat it.
11 And water you shall drink 25by measure, the sixth part of a hin;[e] from day to day you shall drink.
12 And you shall eat it as a barley cake, baking it 26in their sight on human dung."
13 And the LORD said, "Thus shall the people of Israel eat 27their bread unclean, among the nations where I will drive them."
14 Then I said, 28"Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I have never defiled myself.[f]29From my youth up till now I have never eaten 30what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has 31tainted meat come into my mouth."
15 Then he said to me, "See, I assign to you cow's dung instead of human dung, on which you may prepare your bread."
16 Moreover, he said to me, 32"Son of man, behold, 33I will break the supply[g] of bread in Jerusalem. They shall eat bread 34by weight and with anxiety, and they shall drink water 35by measure and in dismay.
17 I will do this that they may lack bread and water, and 36look at one another in dismay, and 37rot away because of their punishment.

Ezekiel 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

The siege of Jerusalem. (1-8) The famine the inhabitants would suffer. (9-17)

Verses 1-8 The prophet was to represent the siege of Jerusalem by signs. He was to lie on his left side for a number of days, supposed to be equal to the years from the establishment of idolatry. All that the prophet sets before the children of his people, about the destruction of Jerusalem, is to show that sin is the provoking cause of the ruin of that once flourishing city.

Verses 9-17 The bread which was Ezekiel's support, was to be made of coarse grain and pulse mixed together, seldom used except in times of urgent scarcity, and of this he was only to take a small quantity. Thus was figured the extremity to which the Jews were to be reduced during the siege and captivity. Ezekiel does not plead, Lord, from my youth I have been brought up delicately, and never used to any thing like this; but that he had been brought up conscientiously, and never had eaten any thing forbidden by the law. It will be comfortable when we are brought to suffer hardships, if our hearts can witness that we have always been careful to keep even from the appearance of evil. See what woful work sin makes, and acknowledge the righteousness of God herein. Their plenty having been abused to luxury and excess, they were justly punished by famine. When men serve not God with cheerfulness in the abundance of all things, God will make them serve their enemies in the want of all things.

Cross References 39

  • 1. See Ezekiel 2:1
  • 2. [ver. 3; Jeremiah 13:1, 2]
  • 3. [2 Kings 25:1]
  • 4. Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:22; Ezekiel 26:8
  • 5. Luke 19:43
  • 6. Ezekiel 21:22; Ezekiel 26:9
  • 7. See Ezekiel 21:2
  • 8. [Isaiah 29:3]
  • 9. Ezekiel 12:6, 11; Ezekiel 24:24, 27; [Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 20:3]
  • 10. Ezekiel 44:10, 12; [Leviticus 16:22; Isaiah 53:11, 12]
  • 11. ver. 9
  • 12. [Numbers 14:34]
  • 13. [See ver. 4 above]
  • 14. [Ezekiel 23:4, 9, 10]
  • 15. Ezekiel 44:10, 12; [Leviticus 16:22; Isaiah 53:11, 12]
  • 16. [Ezekiel 23:11, 12]
  • 17. [Numbers 14:34]
  • 18. See Ezekiel 21:2
  • 19. Isaiah 52:10
  • 20. Ezekiel 3:25
  • 21. [ver. 9; Ezekiel 5:2]; See 2 Kings 25:1-3; Jeremiah 39:1, 2; Jeremiah 52:4-6
  • 22. [1 Kings 22:27]
  • 23. See ver. 8
  • 24. ver. 5
  • 25. Ezekiel 12:19; [Jeremiah 37:21]
  • 26. Ezekiel 45:12
  • 27. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 28. See Ezekiel 12:3
  • 29. Hosea 9:3; [Daniel 1:8]
  • 30. Ezekiel 9:8; Ezekiel 11:13; Ezekiel 20:49
  • 31. [Acts 10:14]
  • 32. Ezekiel 44:31; [Leviticus 7:24]
  • 33. Isaiah 65:4; [Leviticus 7:18]
  • 34. See Ezekiel 2:1
  • 35. Ezekiel 5:16; Ezekiel 14:13; Leviticus 26:26
  • 36. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 37. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 38. See Ezekiel 3:15
  • 39. Ezekiel 24:23; Ezekiel 33:10; Leviticus 26:39

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Or iniquity; also verses 5, 6, 17
  • [b]. A type of wheat
  • [c]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
  • [d]. Or at a set time daily; also verse 11
  • [e]. A hin was about 4 quarts or 3.5 liters
  • [f]. Hebrew my soul (or throat) has never been made unclean
  • [g]. Hebrew staff

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a prophecy of the siege of Jerusalem, and of the famine that attended it. The siege is described by a portrait of the city of Jerusalem on a tile, laid before the prophet, Eze 4:1; by each of the actions, representing a siege of it, as building a fort, casting a mount, and setting a camp and battering rams against it, and an iron pan for a wall, between the prophet, the besieger, and the city, Eze 4:2,3; by his gesture, lying first on his left side for the space of three hundred ninety days, and then on his right side for the space of forty days, pointing at the time when the city should be taken, Eze 4:4-6; and by setting his face to the siege, and uncovering his arm, and prophesying, Eze 4:7; and by bands being laid on him, so that he could not turn from one side to the other, till the siege was ended, Eze 4:8; the famine is signified by bread the prophet was to make of various sorts of grain and seeds, baked with men's dung, and eaten by weight, with water drank by measure, which is applied unto the people; it is suggested that this would be fulfilled by the children of Israel's eating defiled bread among the Gentiles, Eze 4:9-13; but upon the prophet's concern about eating anything forbidden by the law, which he had never done, cow's dung is allowed instead of men's, to prepare the bread with, Eze 4:14,15; and the chapter is concluded with a resolution to bring a severe famine on them, to their great astonishment, and with which they should be consumed for their iniquity, Eze 4:16,17.

Ezekiel 4 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.